How to Decorate on a Budget

A friend approached me recently asking about tips on how to decorate her house without breaking the bank.  I consider home decorating an evolving process, and am quite flattered she thought to ask me (Thanks Amber!!)  With some reflection, I’ve come up with some tips that I keep in mind while shopping for home items.

1. Get inspired think about what you want your home to look like:

Do you love neutrals and pops of color? Are big bold stripes and patterns your thing? Whatever your style, find some pictures or color schemes to help you when you are out shopping.  Websites like Design Seed are great for finding a color palate, as well as your favorite piece of clothing, or fabric from a pillow.  Another tip for finding your style and learning how to decorate is to find other blogs and websites and note their design elements. Centsational Girl, Design Sponge, Thrifty Decor Chick, The Lettered Cottage are some of my favorites.  You might not love everything exactly how they did it, but remember the things to do like about the spaces.  These sites also have great DIY posts for decorating your home!

2. Where to shop vs. Where to browse?


Of course this depends on your style, but I like to browse the high-end, more “name brand” stores for ideas, then try to replicate the same style at more bargain stores.  I browse through their stores, or get catalogs/browse their websites of Pottery Barn, West Elm, Z GalleryArhaus & Restoration Hardware and gather ideas.  Pinterest is a great way to organize the things you see online for your home inspiration.  I might buy something from these stores if I truly love it, or it is on sale (more on sales in #3!)

I tend to buy home items at HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Pier1, Target, Michael’s & Macy’s.  I try to shop these stores with something in mind, or I’ll spend all afternoon looking at every aisle (which is fun to do with a friend).  I like to set a decor budget for each room or each season and try to stick with it.  Decor money is well spent when you enjoy the item, versus buying something to just fill up a space.  Also, remember that you are making an investment in your home, you might love something and are willing to pay extra because you will display it for many years.  If you see something you love and it’s within your budget, you should buy it!  You can always return an item if you live with it a week and decide it’s not for you. Also, I know from experience, I will spend more time running around trying to find that item at a “better” price, just buy it when you see it!

3. Everyone loves a SALE!

My favorite time to by holiday and seasonal home items are after the holiday.  I know that means waiting a year to use the items, but if you pack them away, it will be exciting to un-pack them in a year, and know you paid a fraction of the price.  The days following Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s are great days to shop the clearance isle in the stores.  I will usually buy holiday plates or napkins then, as well as anything I like that is usually 50% off.  I remind myself to not buy things just because they are on sale, but because I truly like them.  I like to buy a few home items each year, remembering that this is a process, and my tastes tend to change after 3-5 years.

4.  Double Duty

A great way to stretch a design dollar further, is to buy items that have multiple purposes.  For example, a set of white or neutral serving platters can be used year round, a red table-cloth can be used for Christmas and Valentines, a fake pumpkin can be used for Halloween and autumn, a beautiful vase can be filled with any color of flowers.  I also like to “shop the house” and use items in different rooms or in different ways.  A cake stand can be used to display holiday decor one month, or bath products on the vanity the next.  When you are buying things, try to think of at least two places or uses for it, if you can’t, maybe you don’t need it?

5. Power of  Paint-Shopping at Goodwill and Garage Sales

I have been inspired by blogs that show how to transform ugly garage sale finds into something beautiful and worth using in your home.  Thrifty Decor Chick is one of my favorites, she will spray paint dang near anything!  She shops goodwill, Craigslist, and garage sales for items with good shapes and of good quality.  With a little elbow grease and a can of paint, you can change pieces of furniture, lamp fixtures, and frames to be a custom piece.  I like finding frames, holiday items & wicker baskets at Goodwill or garage sales.    The best part is the low risk and high reward.  If your transformation turns out to be a bust, you are really not out a lot of money!  These frames were all garage sale finds that I covered in two coats of red gloss spray paint (excuse the bad photos).  I’ve also spray painted my kitchen light fixture and a floor lamp with great results. I hope to do a whole post on this soon!

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